Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nicky Hayden to switch to Ducati GP11.1 at Indianapolis

Nicky Hayden will switch to Ducati’s new GP11.1 Desmosedici machine for his home race in Indianapolis next week after a successful one-day test session at the Brno circuit earlier this week.

The American won’t even send the ‘standard’ GP11 he’s raced in the opening 11 rounds of the season to Indianapolis with the 2006 world champion happier on the latest spec model.

The GP11.1 was first rolled out back in late June at Assen for Valentino Rossi and it features a new swingarm, seamless shift gearbox and modified engine.

Hayden did briefly complete some laps on the new bike at Laguna Seca last month before opting to continue with the GP11.

Monday’s Brno test presented the former Repsol Honda rider with his first chance to properly evaluate the GP11.1 without the time constraints of a race weekend and he clocked a best time of 1.57.533, which was almost 0.7s faster than his best race lap on the GP11 in the Czech Republic Grand Prix.

The Kentucky rider, who has scored points in all 11 races so far this season, said: "We didn’t break any track records or anything but it was the first time I’ve been able to ride the GP11.1 all day and right from the first run it was good. I was basically the same as I was on the standard bike and then we started making some normal set-up changes and got steadily faster and at the end of the day I did seven or eight laps all in the 57s and ended with a 57.5, which was my best lap on a used tyre. 56s would have been nice and that’s where the bar has been set but it is nice to see some progress. The plan is to take both of them to Indy. That’s our bike for Indy and we’re not even sending the old bike over there."

Hayden said the most obvious benefit of the GP11.1 was the seamless shift gearbox and he added: "The GP11 is pretty good on corner entry and we know the braking is good but on the new bike the gearbox is better under acceleration and it helps also in backshifting. I was able to get it to hold the line better too but it wasn’t a huge step or two seconds faster. I think I was two tenths quicker than what I qualified, so it wasn’t like we found something crazy. I was a lot more consistent on it and sometimes the other bike is right on the limit to try and get it to hold the line and when you do try a bit harder you run wide, which is really important for race distance."

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